When you backed us on this amazing journey it was always about more than just a GPS Watch. It was about matching a broader set of needs with the word “athlete”. It was about building a female-founded technology company. …and it was about developing a product that we were *all* excited to be a part of creating.
We knew the journey was going to be tough. And it has been. The last couple of weeks have been the hardest.
In late May, based on the results of our water resistance testing, we made the decision to push our ship date back from August to October. (I think many of you missed this update – or we didn’t do a good job making the change as explicit as we should have – for that we apologize.)
Up until about two weeks ago, October looked on target. And then BOOM! Trouble.
A number of things went wrong all at once. On a product this complex and this close to the finish line, even small things add up. Therefore I need to revise our delivery date to “holiday”. Our internal target date is actually sooner BUT I have learned my lesson and will now communicate a worst case date not a best case date.
Before I go into details on what’s causing this delay and why I believe this delivery date will hold I want you to know that we are as disappointed and as frustrated as you are. There are no words to describe how hard we are working and how much the entire team is pouring into this product to make it fabulous.
What Does Complex Look Like?
Before we dig into the details, here is a sense of what we mean when we say “complex”
How Close Are We to Shipping?
We’ve gone through 3 full field test builds with our manufacturer and had units in the field for nearly 3 months. We are down to a few more major steps – all with their own lead times – before we ship:
1. Build final molds for plastic parts: Started!
2. Freeze all electrical and mechanical changes.
3. Complete Pilot Production Run: Once we have tested and frozen all changes to the electrical and mechanical aspects of the device, we produce 200 units to implement final manufacturing quality tests and make the line flow as smoothly as possible.
4. Procure parts for mass production: Started for long lead time items!
5. Freeze and test firmware
6. Start mass production. We’ll ramp from 500 to 1,000 units per week to start so we can put extra quality controls in place.
Why the Delay?
We expected to exit our July field test build ready to freeze electrical and mechanical design and start the 4-6 week lead time for our Pilot Production run. There were cost saving changes we had wanted to implement but we deferred them in order to lock down the design and get Bia out as quickly as possible. However, during that build and the 3 weeks since, we’ve found two problems that must get fixed before going to production because they effect the quality of the product we’d be sending to you.
Problem: The watch is now water resistant (yay!) but the manufacturing yield is low. We need over 95% passing water resistance testing the first time. Currently we have closer to 30% passing the first time and on the ones that fail the LCD is cracking at higher pressures.
Resolution: The LCD’s are cracking because the new button material that both feels great to press and enabled a very water-tight seal has a downside. It is causing the internal parts to compress too tightly at higher pressures – which in turn cracks the LCD. We are working with 4 different hardnesses of gasket materials, .001 mm variances in circuit boards, adhesives, and machined parts, and precise torque values on .5mm self-tapping screws to fix this issue with a high manufacturing yield. It’s a Mechanical Engineer’s Tetris.
Problem: We found an electrical problem on the circuit board that causes a momentary spike in battery output that results in the watch battery lasting 6 months instead of two years. It doesn’t effect every watch so it was not readily apparent or easy to diagnose. This is the problem responsible for the new delay.
Resolution: We are finalizing changes for the new circuit boards this week, however, we need to robustly test the changes on a batch of 20 boards before freezing design and starting our Pilot Production run. We spent 3 unplanned weeks identifying the problem and designing and then prototyping the fix. It will take another 4 weeks to produce and robustly test the 20 new boards. I don’t want to assume the fix works, skip to the full 200 unit Pilot run and get an ugly surprise. Hence October is now “Holiday”. Sigh.
Will “Holiday” Really Hold?:
Honestly, I think it will. Why?
The problems we are solving are well understood and we are deep in the process of testing solutions. New problems could arise, but we aren’t seeing any yet.
Firmware was my original worry and this extra two months – along with the great talent we’ve added to the team on this front – mitigates that risk.
Procurement of parts could always bite us but none of these changes impact our longest lead time items so we are doing “risk buys” to secure supply in advance.
On behalf of the whole team I can’t tell you how much your continued support and enthusiasm means to us. We’ll keep you posted on progress. Together we are building something great.
C2K and the team